Dec 12, 2020 1:52 AM

COVID 19: My Story-Bob Ratley and Katie Perez transcript

Posted Dec 12, 2020 1:52 AM

Nick Gosnell:

Welcome to COVID-19: My Story. I'm Nick Gosnell. We have two guests this week. The first is Bob Ratley from Hutchinson. You'll hear from him now, on COVID-19: My Story. Bob, first of all, we've put off this interview for a while, because your voice wasn't strong enough to do it. We're sure glad that you're able to join us this week.

Bob Ratley:

Thank you.

Nick Gosnell:

Bob, talk to us about where COVID started for you, and where you went from there, and sort of your journey with the disease.

Bob Ratley:

Okay. My niece had come over to our house. She wasn't there but a couple of minutes, and she thought she had a little mild cold. And so, the next day, my wife and I went just to get tested and found out we both had COVID. And so, we quarantined ourselves.

Bob Ratley:

Well, after about the second day, I got real, real sick. And it was to the point, I could barely breathe. And so, I told her, "I need to get to the hospital." And she asked if I want to go to Wichita or Newton. And I told her, "no, I'll just go here to the Hutch." And so she took me there and it's a blur.

Bob Ratley:

I can remember going there and them taking me to the ICU area. And then I ended up coding when I was there. They had to resuscitate me and stuff. And I ended up catching pneumonemia on top of this COVID-19 and they ended up sending me, I'm actually still down here Via Christi. I'm at a select medical specialty hospital. And I've been down here for, I think it's been three, maybe four weeks. I just started coming to her about a week and a half, two weeks ago. Everything else was a blur. I know that they had to strap me down to my bed, the hospital bed. They put one of those trout things in my throat, I guess I had pulled it out.

Bob Ratley:

But yeah, doing a lot better today, actually. I think they're coming to get me to take me to rehab there in Hutchison, which I shouldn't be there very long. It's just builds up my strength for walking and all that stuff. Because when you're laying in a bed for as long as I have, it loses a lot of muscle and weight and all that.

Bob Ratley:

When I was there in Wichita, I coded down here too. So I coded twice where they had to resuscitating me and bring back. So I'm very, very lucky to be alive.

Nick Gosnell:

Bob, is there anything you remember from your time in Hutch before you ended up in Wichita?

Bob Ratley:

No, there's not. Everything was a blur. It was like I was in a state of dream. I had about a thousand different dreams and they seemed like they were real but in reality they were dreams. And actually, I got some nurses that are about ready to come in here to check me out. I've posted a thing on Facebook so people can see exactly what's going on with me. They can go to Bob Arthur Ratley and see a short video that I've got on there.

Nick Gosnell:

What is it that you want to tell people about this virus, having gone through all that you've gone through?

Bob Ratley:

That it is deadly. Like I said, I'm lucky to be alive. I'm Very blessed. Keep your distance and please wear your mask. I masks aren't a hundred percent guarantee, but they don't want to catch this stuff. You know, it affects people differently. It just hit me super hard. I wish I had more time to talk, but I got doctors and nurses in here right now.

Nick Gosnell:

Our thanks to Bob Ratley for the time he was able to give us, didn't have a lot of time because he was getting ready. Now he is back in Hutchinson, but good for Bob to be back on the recovery road. We talked to him from Wichita earlier in the week. Also joining us this week, Katie Perez, good to hear from her and a rather lengthy conversation with Katie. Hope you'll enjoy it as the second part of this week's episode.

Nick Gosnell:

Katie, give a little bit of your background for people, just what you've done for a living, your family situation, that sort of thing. Just kind of set the scene.

Katie Perez:

Yeah, so I am pretty much a lifelong Hutchinson resident. I left for college and then for some years after that, but I've been here most of my life. I'm an educator. I work at ESSDACK right now as an education consultant. I specialize in the areas of trauma informed schools and project-based learning. I taught in Hutchinson for about four years prior to that at Morgan Elementary. I am married and have one daughter. I think that's about it. That's kind of who I am.

Nick Gosnell:

COVID-19 has impacted so many people now in Reno County. Good grief, we have nearly a thousand cases still active as we speak. But some people get it worse than others. And you really have talked quite a bit about your journey. Let us know when it started for you and just kind of unfold the story from there.

Katie Perez:

I was diagnosed on October 22nd. I had a known exposure. And so I went ahead and got tested because I had dates on my calendar for work, which required me to travel to schools. And that's been one of my fears during this, is when I traveled to so many different counties, the thought of being either contracting or being a carrier into another school is a lot of pressure.

Katie Perez:

So when I knew that I had been exposed, I went ahead and got tested and the test result came back positive. I actually didn't have symptoms really. When I got tested, I had a headache. And so they went ahead and gave me the test based on that symptom. So I was a little shocked when it came back positive, a lot of emotion around that. I was not expecting the emotional load that this would bring. I guess, especially after so many days. I've actually been posting kind of just about our entire experience of staying at home. We're on about day 272 at my house of really trying to social distance. So it was just one of those I've been doing it all right and I still got it kind of moments for me.

Katie Perez:

And then I didn't have symptoms for the first several days. I had maybe a bad headache, some fatigue. I thought it was a very mild case. I was up and cleaning my house. I did a lot of laundry. I would need naps here and there, but it wasn't bad for the first two weeks actually at all. It was about November 8th. I just, I went to church that morning and we went to Qdoba for lunch. Got it to-go. Called it in, ran inside, picked it up. And by the time I got home, the bag, just carrying in two burrito bags from the car, I would have sworn they weighed a hundred pounds each. I just could not lift them up off of the seat. They were so heavy. That day, everything just started to tank for me. I was very tired, very dehydrated. The headache was super intense.

Katie Perez:

And the scariest part for me was my heart rate was very unstable. So I would go anywhere from my resting heart rate typically was about 63, kind of what my Fitbit read most of the time is resting. That would spike all the way up into the 130s with very little activity. I guess I'd get up to walk to the restroom and my heart rate would be about 130. My blood pressure was very unstable. My pulse oximeter was going anywhere from 88 to 95, but it wouldn't stay low consistently. So my doctor wasn't super worried about me needing any kind of supplemental oxygen. Because I would bounce back up into a regular oxygen level for large chunks of time.

Katie Perez:

And that continued, that actually that has continued. I'm on day 47 now. This continued symptoms with my heart and blood oxygen level, kind of going up and down. My blood pressure has stabilized dramatically in the past week or so, but it's just been a very exhausting process of trying to figure out what's wrong. I've had an echocardiogram that came back with no signs of significant swelling.

Katie Perez:

I went to the emergency room. One morning I woke up with extreme chest pain and the left side of my chest was swollen. So, I mean you just immediately go to the ER, because that's what you're taught to do there. They did an EKG. My blood work came back mostly normal, but I was given four baby aspirin and sent home, right. I'm 37, I'm not having a heart attack kind of thing. We need the bed.

Katie Perez:

And it's just continued since then the chest pain, the coughing, the breathing pressure. It's been a roller coaster and throughout it all, I think my primary goal has just been to continue to tell a stor., To talk to people about how this is affecting my body and that it isn't just old people that are getting sick and having long-term effects. This is impacting us in so many different ways. And if I can shed any light on the things I'm experiencing, as someone who is willing to go to the doctor and ask for tests and advocate for myself, then perhaps that will give someone else the ability to do that as well. And we can continue to need to learn more about this.

Nick Gosnell:

I'm amazed, quite frankly that you've managed to continue to ask the right questions. Because that would seem to me the mental fatigue, you talked about brain fog that's the COVID thing, but I just mean being tired of being in the midst of this.

Katie Perez:

Yeah, that comes, I think just with the community of people that I have. I was able to connect with someone pretty early on in kind of what I would consider the second wave I've had. So in that mid November range. She's from Minnesota. Someone I know from Minnesota from a conference through work, connected me with a friend of hers who was also a long hauler. And she sent me a protocol from Eastern Virginia Medical School. She's part of a study there for people who've had long-term symptoms. She was diagnosed in March and was sick through August.

Katie Perez:

So the protocol that she sent me has really helped me ask questions for my doctor. It's given me a lot of insight onto kind of the progression of the virus. And most people do recover after seven to 14 days, but then there's kind of a storm that can happen after that point with inflammation.

Katie Perez:

And that's really what I'm experiencing is just a post-viral inflammatory response. So it's not specific.There are some responses that have been given names.My doctor's not giving me any kind of name for this yet, but he gave me some suggestions for blood work to ask for. So a C-reactive protein tests, a ferritin test, and a D-dimer test were additional blood work that I asked for in addition to basic CBC and metabolic panel. The ferritin is your stored iron level. And the D-dimer is about deep vein thrombosis. So blood clotting. C-reactive protein is just a marker of inflammation. So for me, my D-dimer and my ferritin levels came back in normal ranges, which is amazing. It's awesome. I'm super excited about that, right. But my C-reactive protein was more than double the upper threshold, which just as a marker of inflammation. I also had several other blood tests within my CBC and metabolic panel that showed markers of inflammation.

Katie Perez:

And so that's really kind of what I'm experiencing now is just my body is continuing to react to the virus and maybe fighting. I'm obviously not a doctor, I'm a teacher. But from what I understand is just continuing to fight, trying to have an elevated response, to fight something that maybe is no longer there. And that's why I'm having some of the symptoms I'm having.

Nick Gosnell:

That is really interesting because yeah, inflammation, again, I'm not a doctor either, but it's the body's natural response to potential invasion. What you're saying is that, for one of a better way of putting it, because I love analogies, your body has PTSD.

Katie Perez:

Yeah. Being a trauma responsive person, that's kind of a good way to look at it, is our body keeps score and it is just continuing to react to something that was there trying to get back to homeostasis, a normal level. That's a smart way to think about it, for sure.

Nick Gosnell:

So I guess as you go through this day by day, you didn't, at least as far as, you know, have any sort of underlying conditions going into this, did you?

Katie Perez:

No, I'm relatively healthy. I can definitely lose a few pounds, like most of us could. But never diagnosed with any kind of pre-diabetes or diabetes. The only underlying condition, I haven't seen this connected, I do have hypothyroidism. And that has been impacted by this perhaps. One of the blood work tests that I did showed both an elevated glucose level, as well as my thyroid level was off. Even though I'm still taking my medicine every day. So it's actually performing worse than it was pre-medication. The doctor has told me both of those could be viral responses. And so we'll recheck those levels in about six weeks after hopefully everything has made its way through my system and we can check both of those. But no underlying conditions, otherwise.

Katie Perez:

I'm a relatively fit person. I work out three or four times a week, eat a fairly healthy diet. I drank a ton of water. And so the inability to say hydrated, it's been a real struggle for me. I already drink close to a gallon of water a day. So trying to go over that level has been, has been rough.

Katie Perez:

I don't know why I was so harshly hit by this. Thankfully, no one else in my family was sick. My daughter and I were exposed to the same person on the same day. And for just the record there, we were all wearing masks, the day that I was exposed. I believe my error was I didn't wash my hands after leaving the room. And so who knows how many times I touched my face after being in that same room, using some of the same machines as somebody else who turned up positive. We quarantined together my daughter and I. And she never got sick, never had any kind of symptoms at all. And my husband also stayed negative throughout the experience. So super thankful for that.

Nick Gosnell:

That's really interesting because it really does, I guess, underscore the point you've been trying to make this whole conversation, which is, you don't know what you don't know about this. This is still a new virus to us all.

Katie Perez:

Yeah. And I think that's why we have to share our stories because, I want to say, I've talked about how I haven't been given a name for anything. I would take a moment to just say thank you to every medical professional who is working their tails off right now through all of this. I feel like I have received phenomenal care here in Hutch from both the clinic and the Hutch hospital when I've needed their resources. Everything that I've asked for every question that I've had, has been timely answered. I've never been felt to feel like I'm crazy, like this is all in your head, you're making all of this up. I've never had a negative experience with it.

Katie Perez:

I just think that we're so early on in this. We're only nine, 10 months into this, that it's hard to know what people will experience in the longterm. So sharing those stories of what's happening to us afterwards, are just going to provide that anecdotal data that will eventually lead into some quantitative data for doctors as we continue to learn more about COVID-19 and the impact it's going to have on us long-term.

Nick Gosnell:

Okay. I am really hoping that things resolve themselves for you. But I know that given your job, you deal with a lot of mental trauma and emotional trauma. This physical trauma stuff has got to be just a bit different to deal with.

Katie Perez:

It is. It's hard to be sick for a long time. To not be able to work a full day. I'm still working half days at this point. I haven't been to the gym in a long time. And so just that stress, that it places on your body to not be able to do your norm. Just the other afternoon, I was trying to use a cart to carry some boxes out to my car, and I wanted to do it by myself so badly. And I just couldn't. And I ended up just sitting on my patio, crying for a few minutes, because I just want to lift the box up and not need my husband's help to do that.

Katie Perez:

And still on top of that for me, knowing the impact that this is having on our mental state, it still is heavier. There's still a lot of shame and guilt around being sick. That's something I've seen in my own circle is I'm telling my story. And I know a lot of people who are not. And the reasons they're not is just feeling guilty that they got the virus or embarrassed or frustrated. There's a lot of emotion that comes with this.

Katie Perez:

So it's been interesting to see the number of people who've reached out to me to say, "thank you for sharing" and asking for advice, and then still not going that next step to share their own story. And I think that just speaks volumes to the mental load that this is placing on us within our community right now.

Nick Gosnell:

Thanks to both Bob and Katie for being a part of COVID-19: My Story. Just one more week of COVID-19: My Story. Next week, we will have a chance to talk to a business owner in the local area. So looking forward to that. Hope you will as well. Thanks for listening to COVID-19: My Story, on your favorite podcast app and hutchpost.com.